Tagged with kathleen kirk

Captainess Kirk: My requisite explanatory Star Trek post (spoilers!)

Captainess KirkBy Kathleen S. Kirk

Given the fact my handle is what it is, I am kind of obligated to write up about the new Star Trek movie. However, I have a confession to make.

I am not as big a Star Trek fan as my name would suggest. Or, rather, I am not as big an original series (TOS) fan as my name would suggest.

I got into Star Trek in that post-2009 movie era. I started with some TOS, but wasn’t a huge fan of it. Then, one day, I accidentally TiVo’d Enterprise and an obsession was born. Since then I have watched all of Enterprise and most of DS9 but I haven’t touched much TOS. And I haven’t seen any of the movies except First Contact.

My obsession with Star Trek and my ability to judge this movie without having seen all the necessary backstory comes from the fact I have a deep appreciation, bordering on obsession, for the richness and scope of the universe.

Quite simply, I have inhaled the entire Wiki. Continue reading

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Captainess Kirk: Con Life

Captainess KirkBy Kathleen S. Kirk

Every so often, some people find themselves in a situation that makes them wonder how on earth they got there. It’s like falling through a trapdoor and you look up to leave the way you came, but the door snaps shut and you can only go forward with a sore rear and terror-born heart palpitations.

I found myself in one of these situations not too long ago, when I decided that I was going to start a web digest. It wouldn’t be just any web digest, but rather a web digest devoted to being a female nerd. And now, two months later and 20+ staff members later, we have Feminerdity.com and I have a new job as editor-in-chief.

Sometimes I look around at the giant whiteboards full of things to do and upcoming content, the overflowing inbox, and pages and pages of both physical and virtual notes and I wonder how I got here. I wonder how on earth I thought I was capable and competent enough to run such a web digest.

And then I move my cat off my keyboard, fire off a bunch of emails, and remind myself that, so far, the force is with me and everything will be okay. Continue reading

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Captainess Kirk: Reflections on my cat’s first birthday (party)

Captainess Kirkby Kathleen S. Kirk 

Today, my Hannele turns one and tonight she’s going to go through the shock and horror of having a party in her honor. I’ve dealt with this shock and horror for two decades. It’s time she joins the club.

We ordered cupcakes from what is considered the best bakery in the city, invited cat people to come over, and will hopefully have a nice time. Hopefully she doesn’t bite anybody or hide on the floor under the furniture the whole time.

Hopefully.

Much like a human child, when, as a parent, you fear the inevitable meltdown or tantrum, with cats it can go either way. They can be the perfect snugglebuddy or reflect their larger, more violent cousins’ nature. Continue reading

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Captainess Kirk: A Simple “Scandinavia and the World” Primer

Captainess KirkBy Kathleen S. Kirk

What do you think of when someone says “comics”? Marvel, Avengers, or maybe Peanuts or Family Circus on a Sunday afternoon?

Perhaps what most people won’t consider is my personal favorite, hyperbolic Scandinavian stereotypes shedding light on aspects of European and world history and culture. Yes, I am a huge fan of Scandinavia and the World (SatW), and you should be too! Continue reading

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Captainess Kirk: Punxsutawney Phil and Star Trek: Into Darkness

Captainess KirkBy Kathleen S. Kirk

I go away for one day to be one of those hollow-eyed zombie travelers you see in airports. You know, those ones that are bitter, angry, and overheated because they had to run to their plane at the other end of the terminal, board, and get all comfy, but were then ordered off the plane with everyone else before takeoff and forced to run back down to the opposite end of the same terminal to board the same flight on a different plane, only to find that the flight was now alternating between delayed and cancelled?

Yeah, I became one of them. And when I returned from their ranks, panicking because I was late for my column and jittery from the sheer magnitude of caffeine it took me to keep going, I discovered that the internet was blowing up, again.

It’s the fourth time this week. We should really get a man in to look at that. Continue reading

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Captainess Kirk: Musings on language and culture

Captainess KirkBy Kathleen S. Kirk

In my experience with language, nothing is exactly the same when you translate it. Direct, literal translation is impossible to accomplish in many languages without corrupting, or downright destroying, meaning.

For example, in English, we can say, “He has a ball.” This is a simple idea to us, conveyed by possession and ownership, in what we believe are simple, universal terms.

And, yet, when translated into certain languages, it becomes something much different.

In Finnish, “He has a ball” becomes “Hӓnellӓ on pallo.” To translate this literally would be “He is ball.” The form of the verb “be” used here takes this phrase from a state of being to a state of ownership. It gets more complicated in Russian. That same phrase gets translated as, “У него есть мяч,” which is, in English, “At him there is ball.” This is how ownership, or the closest thing Russian has to ownership, gets conveyed. To further complicate things, let me point out that “ест” (in this circumstance “there is”) is also a tense of the verb “есть” (“eat”).

Effectively, this also allows us to argue that “У него есть мяч” can also be directly translated as “At him to eat ball,” but that is a linguistics battle for a different day. Continue reading

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Captainess Kirk: The Russian Kate

Captainess Kirkby Kathleen S. Kirk

From a young age, I was very used to responding to variations of my name. I was called Katherine and Katelyn, Kathy and Kate, and everything else in between, and I always took it in stride. It was never very difficult to weed out what I might be called or how someone might interpret my name.

Then I began a relationship with my Militantly Nerdy Boyfriend Alex, an odd hybrid of Russian strappings and vibrant American patriotism. He was born in the Soviet Union and immigrated with his parents at the age of three, becoming a naturalized American and even joining the military. When he’s not using terms of endearment for me, my name gets shortened to an affectionate “Kath.”

I suppose this was the warning sign I should’ve looked for, but everything else was going so well in our relationship that I hardly spent much time dwelling on it. However, by the time I met his grandparents, I knew I had fallen haplessly into a bottomless pit of foreign moniker confusion.

Alex had, at my request, told his whole family that they could call me Katya, since “Kathleen” has sounds that don’t exist in Russian, especially that difficult “th”. I don’t think I have ever been called Katya once, though.

When I first met Alex’s grandparents, his grandfather, beaming at us, announced that he would call me Kate. Alex explained later, amidst the broken English, that his grandfather felt he was being more respectful to me by translating Katya back into English again and calling me an English name, even if he couldn’t pronounce my actual name.

Eventually they became comfortable calling me “Ketlin”, which is essentially the Russian pronunciation of “Kathleen.” But that is when the floodgates opened, so to speak. I started thinking of it as a game, and in the beginning it actually was kind of funny, if not even fun.

I had always gone by “Kathleen,” or “Katie” around family, but now I also learned to prick my ears at the sound of a “Kath,” “Kate,” or “Ketlin.” Soon “Ketlin” bifurcated and I found I also had to listen for “Ketrin.”

Now, this may not seem too terrible, and it wasn’t, in English, but I usually was trying to listen for my name amidst a flurry of Russian, a language full of that hard K sound. My ears were constantly primed for anything that sounded similar.  Continue reading

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Captainess Kirk: Nancy Drew nostalgia

Captainess KirkBy Kathleen S. Kirk

I fought the Midwestern wind chill this week in the dangerous Ohio wilderness. My mission: to pay a visit to my family at my childhood home. While there, my mother implored me to clean out the most nostalgic symbol of my teenhood: my old desk.

What I unearthed amongst old notebooks and dusty mechanical pencils was probably one of the most defining hobbies of my childhood.

Let’s move back a few years, to precisely Christmas, 2000. I was almost seven at the time and smitten with technology ever since my family had gotten an enormous white Gateway desktop a few years before. I loved that computer. So that year, I found under the tree the video game Secret Agent Barbie.

Secret Agent Barbie was supposed to be the newest, coolest game on the market. Everyone was talking about it. I was so excited to play it that my mother installed it that very day.

But I never got to play Secret Agent Barbie. My copy was (thankfully) broken.

A few days later, I went with my mother to the store to get a different copy of the game, but it was so new and so cool, they were completely sold out. My mother gave me a choice: I could either wait until the game came back in stock, or I could get another game.

I chose the latter and selected Nancy Drew: Message in a Haunted Mansion, and a childhood favorite was born. I worked my way through the series as I got older and played a grand total of fourteen games.

Continue reading

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Captainess Kirk: A War Game with No Blood? No Problem!

Captainess KirkBy Kathleen S. Kirk

One of my earliest misconceptions about gaming was that all war-based games are created equal. They all have an unnecessary amount of blood and guts, and you just mercilessly wail on your enemies until they “die” in a gory pool.

Now, frequently, this is true. Call of Duty is a prime example. There are plenty of games that entail the endless, repeated “clearing” of spaces, level after level, where you essentially do little more than run through an area and kill everybody you encounter. Though levels bring different objectives, that, at the bare bones, is the essence of the game.

I remember playing Call of Duty briefly and I was distinctly sickened by the fact that, after levels and levels of shooting people, there’s a level where you literally do nothing but crudely and imprecisely bomb a heavily-populated civilian area because a few insurgents are hiding there. I put the game down and never went back.

Thankfully, there are some games where strategy and camaraderie are valued more than blood and gore. One such game is World of Tanks, where you will never actually see a drop of blood spilled.

World of Tanks is a free-to-play MMO, a massive multiplayer online game. World of Tanks actually broke the Guinness Book of Records for the total number of players online at one time on a MMO’s single server, when, while still in beta, their Russian server logged 91,311 players.

Continue reading

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Captainess Kirk: The Finnish Sauna

Captainess KirkBy Kathleen Kirk

At every opportunity he possibly can, Nordic Surfer Ville keeps shamelessly plugging how much he thinks I’d enjoy saunas. He keeps telling me how relaxing and refreshing they are and, while he was here, how much he missed them in Finland.

The problem with pushing me to experience the sauna is that I have aquaventaphobia.

Aquaventaphobia is technically the fear of pool drains, but in actuality I’m terrified of all vents and drains. It might goes back to being a little girl and having my grandmother tell me repeatedly not to get too close to the pool drain or it would suck my intestines out. Because that really is my fear — irrational as it is — that vents and drains will somehow develop some magical suction.

That means there’s no way in hell I am going into a sauna, at least without working myself up to it over a period of months, maybe years.

Continue reading

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Captainess Kirk: The Sum of My Foreign Food Experience

By Kathleen Kirk

Way back when I first met my Militantly Nerdy Boyfriend Alex, he saw my xenophilia and attempted to exploit it head-on when he offered to cook “a traditional Russian meal” for me. Ethnically and sometimes culturally, Alex is a product of the immediate fallout of the end of the Soviet Union, so I anticipated some complicated cooking in the works.

Unfortunately, my previous exposure to cuisine in a similar part of the world had left me more than mildly wary of this romantic gesture, so at the time, I politely refused in favor of Chinese.

I expected “a traditional Russian meal” to be about on par with “a traditional Finnish meal.” It seemed logical to me that Finnish cuisine and Russian cuisine would share some ethnic markers, since Finland existed as part of Russia for about a century. Russia released them in 1918, the end of the “autonomous time.”

Finnish cuisine is weird by American standards, to say the least. Where Western Europe has that infamous blood or black pudding, Finland has verilettu. Popular in school cafeterias across the country, verilettu is a nutritious pancake made of pig’s blood. You read that right. They actually take pig’s blood and fry it up.

Continue reading

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Captainness Kirk: English, Kusipää, Do You Speak It?

By Kathleen S. Kirk

A few days ago, I was watching Burn Notice, one of my favorite shows. It’s about a famous spy, Michael Weston, who gets blacklisted and effectively booted from the CIA. He’s made out to be this brilliant linguist, fluent in Russian, and his name was known all over Russia.

Before I started learning Russian, I could’ve believed this. Now, not so much. I’m quite certain any and all Russians who heard him would’ve laughed him out of Russia, possibly even out of Europe.

It came down to one simple word, спасибо (pronounced spa-si-buh). And he was pronouncing it like it was spelled cпасибва (spa-si-bva). The subtitled translation simply said, “Thank you.”

No, this could not be.

Continue reading

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